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By: BriarCraft , 1:09 AM GMT on March 21, 2013
The first thing that draws the eye when approaching the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum is the Boeing 747 airliner sitting atop the Wings and Waves waterpark adjacent to the museum. And yes, that is a real plane, not some scale model. The museum itself is housed in two huge buildings, one containing propeller-driven airplanes and the other housing jets, rockets, drones, and spacecraft. Good thing I wore comfortable walking shoes!
The moment I stepped into the prop-plane building, even before the admission fee was paid, the Spruce Goose captured and held my attention. Next, I noticed that the floor was littered with tiny-looking planes, but they were tiny only in comparison to the centerpiece.
Because metal was in short supply during World War II, the prototype for the Hughes H-4 Hercules, nicknamed the Spruce Goose by a journalist, was built out of wood, mostly duramold (laminated layers of birch veneer glued together under heat and pressure). To shape and form the wooden parts, 7 tons of nails were used. Once the glue set, every nail was removed. Models demonstrate the construction process and planned use of this Flying Boat. Since the prototype was not completed before the end of World War II, no metal aircraft of this style were produced.
Because so many transport ships were being sunk, a need was seen for a "Flying Boat" to carry 750 troops or 2 Sherman tanks and deliver them to any port on the European coast. To this day, it remains the largest airplane ever built. It's first and only flight was November 2, 1947. Wingspan: 319 feet, 11 inches. Length: 218 feet, 8 inches. Height: 79 feet, 4 inches. Weight, empty: 300,000 pounds. Payload: 130,000 pounds.
In the photo of the Spruce Goose's tail section, notice the plane under the tail in the background? It's a B-17 Flying Fortress. And it wasn't that far away. The Spruce Goose's tail is simply bigger than the B-17.
The B-17 was the first Boeing military aircraft with a flight deck instead of an open cockpit and was armed with bombs and five .30-caliber machine guns mounted in clear "blisters." The B-17E, the first mass-produced model Flying Fortress, carried nine machine guns and a 4,000-pound bomb load. It was several tons heavier than the prototypes and bristled with armament. It was the first Boeing airplane with the distinctive -- and enormous -- tail for improved control and stability during high-altitude bombing. Each version was more heavily armed. Boeing plants built a total of 6,981 B-17s in various models, and another 5,745 were built under a nationwide collaborative effort by Douglas and Lockheed (Vega).
Titan II is on the left. Saturn V is on the right.
After grabbing a sandwich at one of two museum cafes, we trekked across the parking lot to the other building. If I was awed by the Spruce Goose, I was blown away by the towering height of a Titan II missile. Standing upright! An elevator took us two stories below ground to have an up-close-and-personal look at the rocket engines that powered the Titan II. Not far away was a Saturn V rocket, but it was on its side in pieces, on trailers. It was impossible for me to grasp the scale of it, as I couldn't see the whole thing at once.
The Titan II was an inter-continental ballistic missile, later used as a medium-lift space launch vehicle used to carry payloads for the Air Force, NOAA, and NASA. Most famously, they launched the Gemini manned space capsules.
The Saturn V was a multistage liquid-fueled launch vehicle. NASA launched 13 Saturn Vs from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida with no loss of crew or payload. It remains the tallest, heaviest, and most powerful rocket ever brought to operational status and still holds the record for the heaviest launch vehicle payload. A total of 24 astronauts were launched to the Moon, three of them more than once, in the four years spanning December 1968 through December 1972.
What I never expected to see was an actual, real space capsule. And then I looked up and saw another one suspended beneath a helicopter.
But wait! There's more!
Starting with the upper left and proceeding clockwise are models of: Apollo 11 moon shelter and rover , USSR Moon Walker, Mars Curiosity, Mars Rover.
Last, but certainly not least was the awesome Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, the world's fastest jet-propelled aircraft, was used for surveillance from 1966 to 1990. Three SR-71s flown by three different crews set seven world speed and altitude records on July 27 and 28, 1976, including records of 2,193 mph (3,530 kph) for speed over a straight course and 85,069 feet (25,930 m) for altitude in sustained level flight. At 107 feet long and surrounded by other planes, once again I found it impossible to get the whole thing in one photo. By this time, I was getting used to seeing and photographing objects that simply were too big to fit into a single picture.
more photos at http://s878.photobucket.com/user/briarcraft/libra ry/2013/Jan-Feb-Mar?page=1
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Updated: 3:25 PM PST on November 26, 2015